CIENFUEGOS, January 9 (Alina Gonzalo, Cuba-Verdad) The Ministry of
Public Health in Aguada de Pasajeros, near the southern city of Cienfuegos, has
forbidden doctors to write prescriptions for patients so that they can obtain
medicines donated by the Catholic Church.
Health workers who did not want to be identified said that first secretary
of the Communist Party Eugenio Mayón has repeatedly ordered doctors not
to write prescriptions so that patients may obtain needed medicines from
Catholic charity organization Caritas. Caritas dispenses the medicines, donated
mostly by European countries and otherwise unavailable in Cuba unless paid for
in dollars, but requires patients to have a valid prescription.
"Any doctor that issues a prescription for the Catholic Church will be
severely punished," said municipal health director Gilberto Ramos in a
recent assembly with health workers.
Family doctor Osvaldo Naranjo Paz was recently threatened with sanctions
because he helps the Catholic organization in the distribution of the medicines.
The patients, who often cannot find the medicines they need because they are
not available in the national pharmacies and because the patients dont
have dollars to buy them in the dollar pharmacies, keep appealing to the Church
Some here openly question why the Ministry doesnt keep tighter control
over the few medicines that are available so they dont end up being stolen
and sold on the black market. Others ask how it is possible that there should be
no medicines available in the pharmacies serving Cubans, but plenty in the
medical facilities catering to foreigners who pay in dollars.
Cuba bills itself as a "medical power" and encourages foreigners
to come to Cuba to receive medical attention.
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